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Solutions to Common and Obscure Laptop/Notebook/Netbook/Tablet PC/Computer Problems - Page 1


This section of this website is devoted to the solution of the hardware and software problems that beset the laptop and netbook class of PCs, which can differ significantly from the problems that beset desktop PCs due to the facts that laptops, being far less upgradable, are necessarily far more customised by their manufacturers than desktop PCs, are used as mobile devices and therefore must be portable and must be battery powered as well as mains powered, all of which, in turn, means that their components are miniaturized to fit in a small case and that different ways of dealing with the heat generated by high-powered components confined in a small space had to be devised.

Click here! to skip the following preamble and useful information and go directly to the first list of solved problems.

50+ laptop problems are dealt with over three pages. If you found your way to this page using a web search engine, to find the problem that covers the search term you used, try pressing the Ctrl + F keys to bring up your browser's Find box and enter the same query. If you found your way to this page by using this website's navigation, the best way to find a problem that covers the same conditions as the one you need information on is to use the same method with suitable key words on each of the three pages or read through the descriptive links for each of the problems, starting with those provided on this, the first page, which have all been written to describe the problems they provide solutions for as comprehensively as possible.

The links to laptop/notebook/netbook computer problems and solutions on this website, in the form of questions and answers (Q&As), appear after the following useful information in the table below.


This laptop problems section of this website consists of three pages.

Click here! to Page 2.

Click here! to Page 3 .

Visit the Laptop/Notebook/Netbook PC section of this website for detailed information on them.


CONTENTS - Page 1

Click the relevant link below to go to that Q&A topic. Use your browser's Back button to backtrack

1. - The most common laptop/notebook PC problems covered in the MS Knowledge Base

2. - Windows 7 Home Premium installed on a laptop shuts down automatically - cuts out by itself after variable periods of working properly

3. - I am confused about the Intel Sandy Bay second-generation Core i3, i5 and i7 laptop processors

4. - My laptop crashes randomly when working from the mains electricity supply but works fine on battery power

5. - When streaming video from the web to my TV from my Windows 7 laptop, set to do nothing when its lid is closed, the TV picture becomes compressed as soon as I close the lid

6. - Toshiba Equium M70-173 laptop stopped at Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7 startup screen and then produced an error message that announced a hardware failure after a grinding sound came from where its hard disk drive is

7. - No laptop wireless connection to the Internet via a Verizon DSL modem/router

8. - My Toshiba (netbook mini notebook) NB305 laptop's Fn function button isn't working properly

9. - My laptop/notebook PC keeps freezing and crashing I'm certain because of overheating because it gets very hot. Is there an easy way of fixing this?

10. - My laptop PC/computer doesn't have a line-in port required to record from external sources

11. - I want to upgrade my laptop to Windows 7, but ATI/AMD and Nvidia don't provide Win7 video/graphics card drivers

12. - How can I connect my laptop's analog VGA D-sub connector to my HD-ready LCD TV?

13. - How can I connect my Dell Inspiron laptop to an external monitor using HDMI if the laptop only has a standard analog VGA output port?

14. - How can I install Windows 7 on a netbook computer that doesn't have an optical CD/DVD drive?

15. - Dell Vostro 1510 laptop PC/computer won't boot - gives three beeps, blank screen, hard drive indicator works, fan and DVD drive works

16. - Crooked PC repair companies or technicians: If I have to send my desktop or laptop PC in for repairs or recovery, how can I protect the files, data and hardware from unscrupulous repair companies or technicians?

17. - The DVD drive/writer of my laptop PC/computer won't write to DVD-R/DVD+R discs

18. - How can I monitor my laptop's wireless network connection to make sure that no unauthorised users are logged on to it?

19. - How can I reset the password-protected BIOS in a Samsung R40Plus laptop PC?

20. - HP Pavilion problems: The wireless networking of my HP Pavilion dv6000/dv7000/dv8000/dv9000 laptop/notebook computer/PC won't work

21. - How can I replace my Dell Inspiron 6000/6400/9200/9300/E1405/E1505 laptop/notebook PC's DVD drive?

22. - Acer says that my laptop was subject to accidental damage, which is not covered by a standard warranty

23. - Why does Windows report half the video memory that my laptop computer's video/graphics card should have?

24. - The memory requirements of Windows Vista: How much RAM memory does Windows Vista really need to run optimally?

25. - Power Options/Power Schemes: Whenever I close the lid of my laptop/notebook PC, it shuts down...

26. - Why is my laptop that is set to the "Always On" Power Scheme running at half speed?

27. - What do I have to know in order to use my notebook computer in the US and Europe?

28. - How can I connect my laptop computer to a TV? - Hooking up laptop to a TV

29. - Shutdown problem: My three-year-old notebook PC started freezing and now it starts to shut down at random intervals

30. - Some of the newer PC games run very slowly at their lowest settings on my ageing laptop, but its manufacturer doesn't have updated drivers for the video/graphics card

31. - The backlight failed on my notebook PC's screen when it was just out of the warranty period and the manufacturer wants to charge me £300 to replace it

This laptop problems section of this website consists of three pages.

Click here! to Page 2

Click here! to Page 3

Click here! to go to the full list of hardware and software problems dealt with on this website


I am confused about the Intel Sandy Bay Core i3, i5 and i7 laptop processors

Problem

I am intending to buy Windows 7 laptop PC with an Intel Sandy Bridge processor. Having read reviews of the Core i3, i5 and i7 models, I think that a Core i5 processor meets my needs for performance and cost. Unfortunately, when I attempted to relate the processor-review information with the laptop reviews and the laptops from online retailers I discovered that the processor-review models were i5-2300, i5-2400, i5-2500 and i5-2500K, but the reviewed laptops had i5-2410M and i5-2540M processors. On an online retailer's website, the laptops have Core i5-450M, i5-460M, i5-2410M and i5-2530M processors.

Answer

The make/models of Intel's processors can be very confusing unless you know exactly what is what. Processor reviews will review the processors that can be purchased for desktop PCs; laptop processors cannot be purchased because they can only be upgraded by the laptop manufacturer due to the complexity of laptop circuitry, so they are not usually given dedicated reviews.

Laptops use special mobile versions of desktop processors designated by the letter M in the model's name (as in i5-2410M) that are designed to use less power and run cooler due to the confined space they are installed in within a laptop. Moreover, there are two generations of Core i5 processors - the first generation models and the second-generation Sandy Bridge models. The model names of the two types differ slightly, but online the old model name is often used. The second-generation Sandy Bridge models use four digits in the name (as in i5-2410M) and the first-generation use three digits. The second-generation processors are much faster, but the first generation models are still very fast - certainly fast enough to run everything that most people use a laptop for. If you want to play the latest games, go for a second-generation processor. Test results have shown that Intel's Sandy Bridge processors are so powerful that even the entry-level model - the Core i3-2310M - will play the latest games at very decent frame rates and detail settings.


My laptop crashes randomly when working from the mains electricity supply but works fine on battery power

Problem

My Samsung Q210 laptop PC came with Windows Vista Home Premium. I have just upgraded it to Windows 7 Home Premium after a relative bought the Family Pack and had a free licence, otherwise I was quite happy with Vista. It was working perfectly well until recently when it started crashing randomly, but only when connected to the mains electricity. It works as it always did using battery power, so I have ruled out the upgrade to Windows 7 as the cause. When it crashes I have to press the Power button until it switches off and then power it on again when it usually works until the next random crash.

Answer

A search of the web reveals that your crashing problem with the Samsung Q210 is not common.

The crashes may not be as random as you think they are. If you are using demanding software, say, to play a movie, or even just watching a video from the web, the processor can heat up considerably, going from 40 degrees Centigrade to as high as 80 degrees Centigrade even when the cooling system is working efficiently. When this happens the fan's speed increases and it can usually be heard compared to when it is usually quite silent during routine, less demanding use. It the processor reaches a high enough temperature it will stop working to protect itself and the computer. The fact that the computer works after a reboot indicates that the processor has had time to cool down.

This kind of crash can happen even if the extractor fan or fans are working properly, but can happen if it or they have become clogged with dust. The computer dates from 2008, so, if it hasn't been cleaned internally, quite a bit of dust could have built up in the fan(s). You should have a user manual that shows how to open the case. The fan or fans can then be cleaned with a small pain brush while holding the blade in place with a pen or by using a can of compressed air that can be purchased from retail or online computer or photographic stores. If the laptop uses more than one fan, perhaps one of them has stopped working, which has made the cooling less effective. If so, you will have to buy a replacement fan from its manufacturer. If there were no fan extraction of hot air taking place, the laptop would be crashing as soon as it became too hot.

Power Options in the Control Panel control the power settings in all versions of Windows from Windows 95, which would usually be set to provide optimal performance when running on mains power, but reduced performance when running on battery power, but you can set the laptop to work using the same reduced power options while working from the mains.

There are several other cooling solutions that can be employed, such as a laptop stand that raises the laptop from the surface of the desk and devices that you place the laptop on that cool it. A search of the web using the search query laptop cooling devices will find information and suppliers of them for you.

The processor's temperature shouldn't exceed 80 degrees centigrade. Fortunately, a good free utility can monitor a laptop's battery usage, etc., and tell you what the current temperature of the processor (CPU) and the hard disk drive (HDD) is. When it is installed, just hold the mouse pointer over the utility's icon in the Notification Area (bottom left corner) to be provided with the temperatures. If the temperature gets too high stop running the demanding software and you'll see the processor's temperature drop immediately.

BatteryCare - http://batterycare.net/en/index.html


When streaming video from the web to my TV from my Windows 7 laptop, set to do nothing when its lid is closed, the TV picture becomes compressed as soon as I close lid

Problem

I have a Panasonic LCD TV connected to my laptop PC that runs Windows 7 Home Premium using an HDMI connection. The picture fills the TV screen with the laptop's lid open just as it appears on the laptop's screen. Under Power Options in the Control Panel, the laptop is set to Do nothing when its lid is closed, but as soon as I close it the picture on the TV changes and looks as if it is compressed from the top and bottom.

Answer

You can use a VGA connection instead of an HDMI connection if the laptop doesn't provide an HDMI port, because most laptops provide a VGA port, shown in the image below, for an external monitor, which Windows sees a TV as.

An analog  D-sub VGA graphics port on a desktop or laptop PC

As you have discovered, it is very easy to connect a desktop or laptop PC to a TV to watch movies and programmes streamed or downloaded from the web, such as the BBC's iPlayer. The Do nothing setting that you mention (in Windows under Power Options its Control Panel for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7) only prevents the laptop from going into Sleep mode, Hibernation or shutting down when the lid is closed, but, to prevent overheating, the screen is still switched off, which is not a problem if the laptop's screen and the TV have the same screen shape, called the aspect ratio - 16:9 or 16:10 (widescreens) - which obviously can't be changed, and the same settings for screen resolution. Visit the Monitors section of this website for information on screen resolutions and aspect ratios. However, if they are different, when the laptop screen switches off, the TV becomes the primary monitor in Windows, which switches to using the laptop's video settings instead of its own and the TV picture may appear distorted if they differ.

How to fix the problem can depend on the laptop's display adapter and device driver, but you should be able to fix it by entering the words screen resolution in the Start = Search (Vista/Win7) box and then click on the link called Adjust screen resolution. The window that comes up should provide a drop-down menu called Display that allows you to choose the display (laptop screen or TV). When you have the TV chosen as the display, use the drop-down menu called Resolution to change its screen resolution. In Windows 7, a slide control that you operate with the mouse pointer presents itself. You would experiment with the screen resolution until the picture streaming via the laptop filled the screen on the TV. You can also access those settings in Windows Vista and Windows 7 via Display in the Control Panel.

In Windows XP, to access the screen resolution settings, go via Display in the Control Panel or click on an empty space on the Windows Desktop and click on Properties in the menu that presents itself. Open the Settings tab of the Display Properties window that presents itself.

In Windows Vista and Windows 7 a warning message with the option to specify, fix or clone the laptop and TV picture size and shape settings may appear if you switch the TV on when it is connected to the laptop.


No laptop wireless connection to the Internet via a Verizon DSL modem/router

Problem

"I have an HP laptop [PC] and an HP desktop [PC] connected in a wired ethernet LAN to my Verizon DSL modem/router, model AGT 704WG The router also has wireless capabilities. I plan to buy an iPad and connect it via WiFi to my network. The router has been configured for wireless access. I have been unable to connect to or even "see" any wireless networks in Network Connections [in Windows XP] (I do see a Broadband item labeled Verizon, which is Disconnected). This is strange, because I used to see other nearby networks. I have also noticed that the wireless icon in the tray is no longer there. There is a wireless slide switch on the front of the laptop, with a light. The light is on no matter which position the switch is in. I checked Network Adapters in Device Manager and found only the 1394 and the Intel Pro 1000. No wireless! Does this mean that the wireless adapter has failed? Or is it just hiding? Any suggestions for the next step?"

Answer

There are several suggestions posted in the following computer-forum thread that are worth reading because most of them are worthy of consideration. However, the surprising answer to the problem was discovered by the poster himself, which is as follows:

"Problem Solved! Would you believe that there was a typo in the WEP Key? I went into the router to review all the parameters and found the router's WEP key was one digit off from the one I entered. I had been using the WEP key that the Verizon tech had e-mailed to me after he helped me configure the router. How's that for help? I can now see the Internet and the router shows my laptop and all the computers on my network. Whoopee! Thanks to all you Loungers for your suggestions. I've learned a lot from this thread." -

No wireless [Internet] on laptop -

http://lounge.windowssecrets.com/index.php?showtopic=776579&st=0

The poster uses the term WEP key, but I hope that he means the WPA or WPA-PSK encryption key that you have to enter in order to be able to access a secured wireless network. WEP encryption should no longer be used because it can be cracked fairly easily. WPA and WPA-PSK encryption cannot be cracked. The first time you try to connect to a wireless network from a wireless-equipped computer, it asks for the encryption key, which is changeable from within a router's web-based configuration page and can be any mixture of letters, numbers and other keyboard characters. Your internet service provider will provide you with the IP address to enter in a browser such as Internet Explorer in order to bring up its router's customisable configuration settings on a webpage. For many makes/models of router, it is http://192.168.1.1. If it used for your router, just clicking on that link will bring up its configuration settings in your default browser.

On my current Siemens Gigaset SE587 ADSL router, the settings appear under the Wireless tab of the router's settings under Wireless Security. A drop-down menu provides the available encryption methods, which are WEP and WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK. The encryption key, which you can choose yourself, is entered in the WPA Shared Key box and then saved. You can also make up your own SSID, which is the name that identifies your network.


My Toshiba (netbook mini notebook) NB305 laptop's Fn function button isn't working properly

Problem

I have a Toshiba NB305 netbook laptop, which uses the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium. It works perfectly, but its Fn function key has stopped working. Pressing it used to display an on-screen menu that showed all the features that the key supports, such as accessing the wireless connection options, but now none of those features works. Pressing the Fn key does make the corresponding LED on the front of the laptop light up. I have no idea how to fix this problem.

Answer

If the Fn key only recently went wrong, you can try using System Restore to restore a restore point that predated the problem.

Most laptop/netbooks have an Fn key that allows the user to access and toggle many settings/options. The Fn key's functions are operated by software, which is clearly not working. An update might have partially upgraded the Fn key software, leaving it unable to operate, or the software has somehow been corrupted.

To fix the problem requires reinstalling the missing or corrupt software. The Toshiba Software Installer, which can be download from http://www.csd.toshiba.com/cgi-bin/tais/support/jsp/bulletin.jsp?ct=SB&soid=2460108&ref=EV. When installed and run, it will scan your computer automatically, and then download and install all the necessary software for Windows 7.

This utility works with several other Toshiba laptops. The webpage linked to above provides a link that provides information on which laptops/netbooks the utility supports.

If none of the above information fixes the problem of this kind, there may be a software fix made available from the manufacturer's website.

If not, your computer is probably still be under warranty, and, as such, you can use Toshiba's technical support personnel, who might be able to help you fix the problem.

Note that your computer is categorised as a mini notebook on Toshiba's website.

If users who own other laptop brands experience the same problem, they can can find download the relevant software from the computer manufacturer's website or make use of its support system.


My laptop/notebook PC keeps freezing and crashing I'm certain because of overheating because it gets very hot. Is there an easy way of fixing this?

Problem

My laptop PC keeps crashing and I'm sure that overheating is the cause because the case gets very hot where the processor must be located (around the fan area). Surely this shouldn't be happening, because the manufacturer should have designed the machine not to overheat. Are there any simple/easy/inexpensive solutions to this problem?

Answer

Not all make/models suffer from overheating, but some laptops have desktop-PC processors that require a better cooling solution than can be provided from within the narrow confines of the laptop's case or they have an inadequate cooling system, which is the fault of the manufacturer.

If dust accumulates on and in and around the cooling fan, overheating can result because the air is not being taken in and expelled efficiently. Most laptops are easy to open so that the fan and the area around it is exposed so that it can be cleaned. The service manual that is available as a download from most major laptop manufacturer's websites usually shows you how to access the components, including the fan, disk/disc drives and the RAM memory. Usually its just a case of removing the screws that hold the panel(s) in at the bottom of the case. Just make sure that you remove all of the screws before you try to lift a panel away. Sometimes the use of the tip of a standard screwdriver is required to do that. Some of the screws can be sunken into pits. Never force a panel off. If a panel needs force to be removed, one or more a screws is probably still in place.

You can use a can of compressed air, purchased from a computer shop, to remove any dust. Don't use a vacuum cleaner because doing so can transfer static electricity to the computer which can destroy its sensitive electronic components. Often dust sticks to the blades of the fan. I use a pen to hold the blades in place and a wet cotton bud to remove the dust. If yu use a can of compressed air, you should hold the fan blades in place like that. The blades of the fan are usually pliable enough to allow a cotton bud to get in between them. Dust can also accumulate around the entry and exit grilles.

If dust is not the cause of the overheating, you can buy cooling solutions that cool the case from below or laptop stands that lift the case off the desk so that air can circulate around it. I would buy one of the USB coolers that you fit the laptop into and which plug into a USB port.

Here are some examples of stands and powered USB coolers: http://www.amazon.co.uk/tag/laptop%20cooler?ref_=tag_dpp_cust_itdp_t

Amazon's purchaser reviews and rating s are often well worth considering and reading.

A free temperature, fan-speed, and voltage-monitoring utility

SpeedFan is a free thermal monitoring utility that can monitor the temperatures, fan speeds, and voltages of many computer systems. Not all of SpeedFan's features work on all systems, but temperature monitoring, which is its most-important function, works on most systems that are equipped with the kind of thermal sensors that most laptops have.

Fortunately, all current AMD and Intel processors and desktop and laptop PC motherboards have temperature sensors built into them that allows software to measure their temperatures and even give warnings when particular temperatures are reached. You can use the free CPU-Z utility to identify the processor used in your desktop or laptop PC and then look up its maximum operating temperature on its manufacturer's website and then use SpeedFan (search for speedfan download), to monitor the temperatures and even set warning levels, which, incidentally, the system's BIOS can usually also be set to do. Note that it is not advisable to use the advanced configurations provided by SpeedFan unless you know exactly what you are doing, but the basic temperature readings are safe for anyone to use. Most current laptop processors are specially designed to work at very high temperatures, maxing at 100 degrees centigrade, which would cripple a desktop PC's processor.


My laptop PC/computer doesn't have a line-in port required to record from external sources

Problem

My laptop computer/PC running Windows 7 does not have a line-in port, which is required to record from external sources. The options to enable/disable line-in also do not appear in the volume control panel. I've already tried the right-click method to enable hidden devices, but only microphone, front mic, and stereo mix show up under recording devices. Is there a solution to this problem?

Answer

There is hardly anything on the web on this problem, but it is easy to put right. You can make use of a search engine to search for a USB line-in adapter. They are relatively inexpensive.

Here is a USB line-in adapter that I found:

USB line-in adapter - "Notebooks are great for converting your LPs, 45s, 78s and Cassettes to CD. But there's just one problem. Most don't have a 29-cent Line In Jack. So you just need to add this Audio To USB adapter to give yourself the Line In Jack. This audio adapter is actually a high quality external sound card, so you'll get 20-20,000hz flawless reproduction." -

http://www.dak.com/reviews/2086story.cfm


I want to upgrade my laptop to Windows 7, but ATI/AMD and Nvidia don't provide Win7 video/graphics card drivers

Problem

I want to install Windows 7 on my laptop PC. It has an integrated ATI graphics chip (ATI is now called AMD since AMD acquired it), but ATI doesn't seem to provide laptop device drivers for all laptops, and my manufacturer doesn't currently provide Windows 7 drivers. Is there a way out?

Answer

Note that the video/graphics card manufacturer, ATI, which was purchased by AMD, is now called AMD.

AMD and Nvidia don't provide drivers for all mobile graphics chips on all laptops because the laptop manufacturers provide their own support and don't want users installing drivers that they haven't approved.

For many years, ATI, now called AMD, (and Nvidia) had their hands tied by laptop manufacturers who request that ATI does not offer support for the mobile graphics chips that they use in ATI's Catalyst Driver. Most laptop manufacturers, such as Dell, customise the drivers they use and have their own support system, so they don't want their customers downloading device drivers from ATI's home page that won't work properly.

Annoying certainly, but there are ways to get around the problem. With the Mobility Modder tool, you can use the standard ATI or Nvidia drivers on your laptop. Instructions on using the tool for ATI mobile graphics chips can be found at http://www.hardwareheaven.com/modtool.php. For Nvidia laptop graphics chips the page is http://www.hardwareheaven.com/nvmodtool.php.


How can I connect my laptop's analog VGA D-sub connector to my HD-ready LCD TV?

Problem

How can I connect my laptop's analog VGA D-sub connector to my HD-ready LCD TV, which has an HDMI connector?

Answer

Your TV might have a VGA input, because most do, so check the manual and have a look at the back panel for a blue connector (that is still also provided on many graphics cards) as shown on this page of this website. If the TV doesn't have one, some laptop PCs have a Composite video or S-Video output port, in which case you should also be able use that to connect the PC to the TV's AV input, although the quality probably won't be very good.

If none of those connections is available, you can still use a VGA-to-HDMI converter, which changes the analog VGA signal coming from the laptop PC to a digital signal for the HDMI input socket on your TV. Models cost from around L50 upwards. You can find sellers by entering the search term VGA-to-HDMI box uk in a search engine.

How to Convert VGA Output to HDMI Input -

"Purchase a VGA to HDMI Converter Box. (You can find a link below for a list of recommended models.)" -

http://www.ehow.co.uk/how_5801514_convert-vga-output-hdmi-input.html

If you want to convert an HDMI output port for a PC graphics card to a VGA monitor or TV, you can use this converter:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/HDfury-1080P-HDMI-Converter-Transcoder/dp/B000SOPWS8

The product does an excellent job of converting HDMI signals into VGA. So if you have a new product (graphics card, etc.) that outputs HDMI signals and you want it to work with a VGA (old PC monitors and screens) then this is the right compact product for you.


How can I connect my Dell Inspiron laptop to an external monitor using HDMI if the laptop only has a standard analog VGA output port?

Problem

My Dell Inspiron 1720 laptop computer has HDMI support, but it only has a standard analog VGA graphics port. Is there a way to connect the laptop to an external monitor using DVI or HDMI using the VGA output port, a USB port, or by using a PC Card? The laptop has an ExpressCard/54 slot for a PC Card.

Answer

If your monitor has a VGA input connector, the easiest option would be to use it by connecting a VGA cable between the monitor and the laptop, which has a VGA output port. This provides a high-quality picture that has the bandwidth for watching HD movies. It is also possible to watch Blu-ray movies over a VGA connection, because there is no High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) over an analog connection.

There is no PC Card adapter that can connect a laptop to a monitor and there is little likelihood of there ever being such an adapter, therefore you'll have to use a USB display adapter. The Tritton TRI-UV200 external graphics card with a digital DVI output currently (February 2010) costs around £100. It supports screen resolutions up to 1,920x1,080 pixels. The Tritton SEE2 USB 2.0 to VGA Adapter is also available for a VGA connection.

You should be able to find other such devices by using an appropriate search query, such as usb to dvi adapter (adaptor is also used in the UK) in a search engine.

Here is a typical review: DisplayLink's USB-to-DVI adapter - http://techreport.com/articles.x/14057

You should read the available reviews before you make any electronic purchase. Reviews and vendors can be found by entering the make/model of the device in a search engine. The the word review can be added to bring up specific review page. You should not take into account negative reviews made by purchasers unless there are several, because often people post them for the hell of doing so, or they are incompetent people who screw up everything they touch.

USB 2.0 lacks the bandwidth for watching video or playing games over the connection. This will no doubt change with USB 3.0, which is already available as adapter cards for desktop PC and as PC Cards. You can also buy desktop and laptops that come with USB 3.0 built in, as USB 2.0 is now. However, as yet there is no USB 3.0 equivalent of the USB 2.0 Tritton TRI-UV200 adapter.


How can I install Windows 7 on a netbook computer that doesn't have an optical CD/DVD drive?

Because of their small size, netbook computers don't have an optical CD/DVD disc drive, so, unless an external optical drive is used, an alternative method is required to install an upgrade version Windows 7, but all netbook computers have USB ports. Microsoft has just released the USB/DVD fix that creates a bootable USB flash drive from a Windows 7 installation disc. A USB flash drive with at least 4GB of storage space and another computer PC that has a CD/DVD drive (or an external optical drive) is required, plus, of course the Windows 7 disc. Here is a tutorial on how to accomplish that task. -

How to create a bootable Windows 7 USB flash drive -

"If you're looking for a quicker way to install Windows 7 than via DVD, try installing it from a USB drive. This guide describes two ways to make a bootable Windows 7 USB drive." - http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2009/12/-the-usb-flash-drive.ars


Dell Vostro 1510 laptop computer won't boot - gives three beeps, blank screen, hard drive indicator works, fan and DVD drive works

Problem

I have a problem with my Dell Vostro 1510 laptop PC, which I couldn't find an answer to on those presented. This Laptop does not boot when I press the power button but gives three beeps, the screen does not show, the hard-drive indicator lights up, and the fan and DVD drive are working. Sometimes it boots up after pressing the power button on and off several times. But if I put the computer into Hibernation, put to sleep or restart after that, it never boots again.

Answer

I have one of those laptops as well. It has a faulty Nvidia graphics chip. Dell and HP increased the warranty on laptops that have this chip. You should ask Dell's support staff about this. The chip overheats and causes problems. A BIOS update was made available that increases the speed of the fan to keep the laptop cooler. You should visit Dell's website, dell.com, and enter the computer's service tag (six numbers followed by a letter), which you will find on the label on the bottom of the laptop. This allows you to download all the device drivers and access Dell's technical support. The support staff will be able to tell you what the three beeps mean. The BIOS performs POST tests (Power-On Self-Tests) that check the hardware. It makes the computer beep to give a beep code that tells you what the cause of a problem probably is.

You must update the computer's BIOS. Since the screen doesn't work it looks like a graphics problem that might be fixed by installing the latest BIOS file. Visit this page for the latest BIOS and information on how to update it: http://tinyurl.com/ycmbvgj. The BIOS downloads are all mixed up, but the A15 download, released 29/03/2009, seems to be the latest version. When you click on a link the page that opens provides a release date.

It is also a good idea to place the laptop on a laptop stand that raises it off the surface of the table. This allows air to circulate freely under it and keeps it cooler than it would be otherwise. You can buy one for under L10 on amazon.co.uk or amazon.com. Using one makes typing on a laptop much easier, because it holds the machine at an adjustable angle.

If you can boot the laptop to the first startup screen and press the F12 key, you are given access to the system diagnostics, which can test all of the hardware components. I updated my 1510's BIOS after I read a story on the problematic graphics chip and it is still working well.


The DVD drive/writer of my laptop/notebook PC/computer won't write to DVD-R/DVD+R/BD-R discs

Problem

Having had no previous problem with its DVD writer, now when I try using Roxio Creator on my laptop PC to write to both DVD-R and DVD+R discs, there is no longer an option to set the drive's write speed. An error message comes up saying: "Invalid parameter". The laptop is running Windows XP Professional.

Answer

This is the most common problem that afflicts CD/DVD drives/writers - not being able to read discs or write to discs. It is usually fixed by entering the Device Manager, opening the DVD/CD-ROM drives category of devices, right-clicking on the make/model of the drive under that category, and then choosing Uninstall from the menu that presents itself. Rebooting the computer makes Windows XP or Windows Vista reinstall the device drivers, which were somehow corrupted.

In Windows XP, the quickest method to bring up the Device Manager is to enter devmgmt.msc in the Start => Run box. Alternatively, right-click My Computer =>" Properties (as in Windows 95/98/Me), to bring up the System Properties applet, shown below, and then click the Hardware tab followed by the Device Manager button.

The Device Manager now appears in the Control Panel as an item in Windows Vista. There are several ways to access it. For example, to access Device Manager, follow this click path: Start => Control Panel => System and Maintenance => System => Device Manager. The quickest method is to enter the devmgmt.msc in the Start => Start Search box. (Vista doesn't normally have a Run box, but it can be configured to show one).

Alternatively, if it has one, you can try using the laptop's quick eject mechanism for optical CD/DVD/Blu-ray drives. This enables the drive to be removed from its drive bay. To do that turn the laptop upside down and look for a slider or switch that allows you to slide the drive out. Other model's of laptop use a screw to hold the drive in place. Release the drive, slide it a few inches out of its bay and then push it back into place firmly. Sometimes the drive can disconnect from its connection to the computer. Doing that reconnects it and allows you to write to discs.

To do that on a desktop PC requires the user to open the PC's case and then make sure that the power and data cables going to the drive and motherboard are firmly connected.


How can I monitor my laptop's wireless network connection to make sure that no unauthorised users are logged on to it?

Question

Recently the national press has featured articles on Wi-Fi theft in which unauthorised users use wireless network connections in order to steal bandwidth or to to commit online crimes. I have tried to find out how to monitor my wireless network that consists of two laptop computers that have built-in wireless adapters and a Netgear DG834PN RangeMax MIMO-G Wireless ADSL Modem Router with 4-port 10/100 switch. My original laptop runs Windows XP Professional and my newer laptop runs Windows Vista Business. If I open the My Network Places in Windows XP and selected View workgroup computers will any intruder's computers be shown there? In Windows Vista, I look under Start => Network => Network Sharing Center => Tasks (top left) => View computers and devices. If not, can you tell me the best way to monitor my wireless network?

Answer

The computer's of intruders will only show in My Network Places (XP) and the Network Sharing Center (Vista) if the intruder has his/her computer set to use the same workgroup name as the computers on your wireless network. Each computer must have a unique computer name and belong to the same workgroup. You set the computer and workgroup name under Start => Control Panel (with Classic View enabled) => System => Computer Name (tab) in both XP and Vista.

A router's settings are accessed by opening its webpage that contains the settings. You do that by entering its IP address in a browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) the router's user manual will provide its default IP address or you can find out what it is by entering cmd in the Start => Run box in XP or the Start => Start Search box in Vista. You the enter the command ipconfig at the Command Prompt. The router's IP address is the Default Gateway, which could be, say, 192.168.1.1. To bring up your router's settings page, you would enter http://192.168.1.1 in a browser. To find out which computers are connected to your wireless network, the best place to look is on the router's Administration page. Note that you will have to search through the tabs on the settings page to find the applicable settings because they differ from router to router.

If your router is set to act as a DHCP server (the DHCP setting is enabled), which most are by default, it will provide IP addresses to the computers that connect to it automatically, then the computer name of an intruder should be shown - at least in a log of the computers that have connected to the router. If DHCP is not enabled, the IP addresses have to be assigned manually to the computers on the network. You would do that in Windows XP by opening Network Connections in the Control Panel, right-clicking on the wireless connection and then clicking on Properties. (If it is a wired connection, you would right-click on the LAN connection.) Doing that brings the Wireless Network Connection Properties window up. On its General tab scroll down to Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), select it and click on its Properties button. Doing that brings up a window that allows you to set the IP address manually, which has to be in the same range as the router and the other computers. For example, 192.168.1.2 if the router has the IP address of 192.168.1.1. The next computer could have the IP address of 192.168.1.3, etc., all the way up to 192.168.1.254. 255 and higher cannot be used in any range of internal IP addresses in a network.

That said, there won't be any intruders if your network is secured properly by doing the following:

1. - Log in to your router by entering its IP address in a browser, which will produce its settings page as a webpage. The page will be like any other home page, giving access to other pages, some of which will allow you to change the settings. Make sure that the DHCP setting is enabled. If a list of attached devices is provided, if you don't recognise any one of them, it may be an intruder. If your router provides a log of the computer IP addresses that have logged on to it, if you don't recognise any one of them, it may be an intruder.

2. - The best way to prevent unauthorised access to your router is to use WEP or preferably WPA/WPA2 encryption. Note that WEP encryption has been cracked and anyone with the knowledge can bypass it. Set your router to use WPA-Personal and the WPA2 standard if possible. Choose and enter your password (SSID) and give it only to the users that you have given permission to connect to your network. You should not continue using the default SSID and password.

Change Default SSID - http://netsecurity.about.com/od/stepbystep/ss/change_ssid_2.htm

3. - If you router does not support WPA or WPA2, you should get a new router that does support it. You can use what is called MAC authorisation as an additional protection. You have to know the unique MAC addresses of all of the wireless adapters on the computers that you want to give access to the network, and then enter them into your router, which should have a provision for that. However, note that hackers are adept at using a technique called "Mac address spoofing" to get around that measure, so it has limited protection value from hackers, but would probably prevent your neighbours from accessing your network if you weren't using WPA/WPA2 encryption.

To find out what the MAC address is for a network adapter follow this clicking path in Windows XP: Start => All Programs => Accessories => Command Prompt. Enter the command ipconfig /all. In Vista, enter the command cmd in the Start => Start Search box to bring up the Command Prompt. The Physical address is the MAC address. It takes this form: 00-17-16-28-51-44.

Detecting Wireless LAN MAC Address Spoofing - http://www.net-security.org/article.php?id=364

The following FAQ page provides information on all the topics discussed above: Student village network >" frequently asked questions - http://www.yok.utu.fi/faq.php.


How can I reset the password-protected BIOS in a Samsung R40Plus laptop PC?

Question

I have a Samsung R40Plus laptop PC running Vista Home Premium, and want to replace it with Windows XP Professional, but the BIOS setup program is password-protected and the password is not mentioned anywhere in the documentation. Is there any way onboard of re-setting the BIOS?

Answer

In a desktop PC, you would consult its user manual of its motherboard to locate the jumpers the pins of which are used to activate or reset the BIOS, but that can't be done easily with laptop PCs because of their highly integrated designs. In fact, it is advisable not to attempt to reset the BIOS of a laptop. Instead, you can make use of software that cracks the password.

CmosPwd decrypts the password stored in CMOS BIOS chip used to access the BIOS Setup Program - http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/CmosPwd.


HP Pavilion problems: The wireless networking of my HP Pavilion dv6000/dv7000/dv8000/dv9000 laptop/notebook computer/PC won't work

Problem

I have an HP Pavilion dv6000 laptop computer that has lost its wireless networking capability. The status light stays orange and the hardware switch can no longer be used to enable wireless networking. Moreover, the HP Wireless Assistant has disappeared and Windows Vista doesn't recognise the computer's wireless network card. HP Total Care says that it is aware of the problem that has affected many of this computer model's owners. I was advised to update the BIOS to the latest version. There are several posts in HP's own form asking for a fix. Apparently, many owners have updated the BIOS and had HP install a new motherboard without success.

Answer

It's an unfortunate fact that all of the major laptop PC manufacturers have reliable models and also some unreliable models. Problems are more common in the models that are sold as cheaply as possible, and are less frequent with the more expensive models designed for the business market. That said, on paper, the HP dv series laptops have a fairly impressive specification while remaining comparatively inexpensive. However, several problems have come to light with them.

For the dv7000 series, which suffered from problems associated with overheating and its graphics processor, HP replaced the motherboards or provided a replacement dv8000 system to purchasers with problems, even when out of warranty, after being hit with a class action lawsuit in the USA. Unfortunately, the dv8000 series proved just as problematic and was replaced by the dv9000 series. The dv6000 series was made available in conjunction with the dv9000 series. Unfortunately, both of of those series are also having problems - the wireless networking issue and also problems with the battery and battery-charging. In spite of issuing public statements to the contrary, HP is clearly aware of this state of affairs, while advising the purchasers of these models to update the BIOS, to run its recovery procedure, and to replace the wireless network card. Those are inexpensive remedies that are unlikely to fix the problems. There is clearly one or more flaws in the design of the motherboards in those models. The owners of those models that are still under warranty will have to wait until HP admits the problem and recalls them to be fitted with redesigned motherboards. However, in the UK, even if the computers are out of warranty, under the terms of the Sale of Goods Act, their owners can demand that they be repaired or replaced, because they have an inherent fault that makes them unfit for the purpose for which they were bought. In any case, a relatively inexpensive fix would be to buy a USB wireless adapter, or a one in the form of a PC Card.

A PC Card is credit card-sized expansion card that can add hardware such as RAM memory, a modem, mass storage, a wireless network card and I/O capabilities to laptop computers by inserting it in a slot in the computer that supports the type of card it is. Most current laptops use CardBus or the newer ExpressCard/54 PC Cards. CardBus is the 32-Bit version of PC Card technology.


How can I replace my Dell Inspiron 6000/6400/9200/9300/E1405/E1505 laptop/notebook PC's DVD drive?

Problem

I accidentally dropped my Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop PC when the optical Phillips DVD +/- SDVD8820 CD/DVD writer was open, which killed it. The extended warranty does not cover accidental damage, and I don't have accidental-damage insurance cover for it. Can I install any make of laptop optical drive, or do I have to obtain the same make and model? A web search for the drive only located eBay as a source for second-hand drives, but I would rather have a brand-new drive. Could I buy a replacement from Dell?

Answer

You should buy the same make and model of CD/DVD writer because the laptop was designed to fit it. Another make/model might not fit.

This is the kind of information supplied on sites that supply replacement laptop parts:

"Do I have the right part? These drives are designed to specifically fit only the mentioned make and model laptops. Match the description, picture, and any part numbers associated with the part to our list."

The same drive has been used with a different outer plastic faceplate in different Inspiron models, including the 6000, 6400, 9200, 9300, E1405 and E1505, but you can easily unclip the faceplate on the existing drive and use it on the replacement.

Dell can supply you with a brand new drive over the telephone, but for some reason not from its website. You can find the contact number on its website. It is unlikely to be the cheapest source, so try using a search engine again to look for cheaper suppliers. The drive shouldn't cost more than about £30/$60.

For the easiest replacement, obtain the exact Dell part number for the drive. It might be printed on the drive's label. If not, try visiting http://support.dell.com/. Enter your service tag and then select original configuration. Visit the following page for more information:

Dell Replacement Spare Parts and Upgrades:

http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/...

Replacing the drive yourself shouldn't present you with any difficulties. Just remove the drive as shown in the service manual. If cables are attached to the drive remove and attach the cables to the same connectors on the replacement drive. Dell provides a service manual for all of its PCs. The information is also available from Dell's website. Here is the information in the service manual for the optical drive:

http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ins6400/en/sm/...

It looks from that page as if there are no cables; the drive plugs into the computer automatically when you insert it.

If you don't need to use the computer on the move, you could buy an external USB DVD writer. Desktop PC external drives that have a desktop-sized drive in an external case are the cheapest and the fastest. They can be plugged into a USB port on the laptop. If you need to use the drive on the move, you should buy a portable drive, which houses a laptop-sized DVD writer in an external case. Portable USB drives are not as fast as external desktop USB drives. If possible, for the best results, you should use a portable drive's mains power adapter.

You can make use of a search engine to search for information and vendors of external desktop and portable DVD writers. The LG GSA-E50N portable drive and the Samsung Super-WriteMaster SE-S204 desktop external drive are both excelent products and both of them can be purchased for under £50/$100 (March 2008).


Acer says that my laptop was subject to accidental damage, which is not covered by a standard warranty

Problem

I bought an Acer Aspire 3050 series laptop/notebook computer in December 2006 from Comet. I finally got a broadband connection in March 2007. As soon as I connected the laptop, it started downloading a large number of updates, which took a long time. The next day when I turned the computer on there were some dead pixels in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and some discoloured horizontal and vertical lines. Then I watched as the dead pixels expanded until the whole corner was black. Having returned the computer to Comet, the company said that it was accidental damage, which is not covered by the standard warranty, and is therefore a chargeable repair, because accidental damage cover wasn't taken out. In order to get this confirmed, I got Comet to return the computer to Acer. That company's report merely said that the damage was a chargeable repair. As far as I know, the computer was never knocked or dropped, so I am dismayed by the situation. It strikes me as ridiculous how easily companies can escape from honouring their warranties by claiming something for which they have no proof. I would like to take the matter to court. Is this a good idea? Do I have to take both companies to court, or only its manufacturer, Acer?

Answer

Areas of black pixels on a screen are usually caused by physical damage that is the consequence of an impact from, say, a knock or fall, or excessive pressure applied to the screen.

The damage could have been caused by a person's handling of the machine, or there could be a fault or distortion in the laptop's lid that could have been caused by accidental damage before you received the machine. A distortion in the lid could have put stress on the screen panel that led to the failure over time. Unfortunately, you had the laptop for three months before the failure occurred, so it would be very difficult to prove that the damage happened before you received it.

Laptop PCs, being portable, are much more prone to accidental damage than desktop PCs. For that reason, taking out accidental damage cover, which isn't usually expensive is a good idea. I recently got a year's accidental damage and theft cover for a £700 laptop for £50.

If you want to take the matter to court, you would have to show on the balance of probabilities that the fault was due to a defect in the machine, not to accidental damage. You could take it to a reputable laptop repair company for investigation. If evidence turns up that supports your case you could take either Comet or Acer to court, depending on which company has to honour the machine's warranty. However, the most likely outcome is that you'll have to pay to have the laptop repaired. You should obtain a quote on the cost, because it might be more time and cost-effective to buy a new machine. When a new laptop computer becomes seriously faulty, it may continue having problems.


Why does Windows report half the video memory that my laptop computer's video/graphics card should have?

Question

I have a Dell Inspiron 9400 laptop computer, purchased in April 2007, that runs Windows Vista Business Edition. The PC is supposed to have a 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 video/graphics card and 2GB of RAM memory installed. However, the BIOS and Windows both report only 128MB of dedicated video memory. Have I been cheated or is the computer not reporting the correct amount of video memory?

Answer

Note that the video/graphics card manufacturer, ATI, which was purchased by AMD, is now called AMD.

Both ATI/AMD and nVidia and Dell have been engaged in some deceptive advertising recently. Both ATI/AMD and Nvidia have developed technology that allows their graphics cards to share system RAM memory to supplement their own dedicated video memory.

ATI/AMD calls its technology HyperMemory, which doubles the amount of memory available to the video cards that use it by using system memory. For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HyperMemory.

An ATI/AMD graphics card that is advertised as having "256MB HyperMemory" means that it only has 128MB of memory on the card.

nVidia calls its memory-sharing technology TurboCache, which allows the graphics card to increase the memory it uses by up to four times the amount of memory on the card.

On its website Dell lists "256MB ATI Mobility Radeon x1400 HyperMemory" as an option for the Inspiron 9400. A small subscript directs you to a footnote at the bottom of the page that says: "The total of local and shared system memory used by this graphics card is up to 256MB. Local onboard memory is 128MB. Up to 128MB of system memory may be allocated to support graphics, depending on the system memory size and other factors." The facts are there, but you would have to look hard to find them. Like you, a customer with some knowledge of graphics cards would probably assume that that option gives you a laptop that has 256MB of dedicated video memory, when only half that amount is the real amount.


The memory requirements of Windows Vista: How much RAM memory does Windows Vista really need to run optimally?

Question

I have a new laptop/notebook computer with 1GB of DDR2 RAM memory that uses 128MB of it to power its built-in graphics. In other words, 128MB of system memory is used for the graphics instead of the graphics chip having its own dedicated memory. The laptop runs Windows XP Pro very well. It came with a free upgrade to Windows Vista Business edition, which I have applied for. I am worried now about installing Vista, because I have read the following article, and my laptop only has one free memory slot for a 1GB memory module.

Kingston Technology - Ultimate Memory Guide -

Covers Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Linux, and Macintosh OS X. -

http://www.kingston.com/tools/umg/umg01b.asp

Buying a new PC? 'Windows Vista Capable' barely hits the mark - IBM'er says Vista's RAM sweet spot is 4GB -

http://www.computerworld.com/action/...11523&intsrc=hm_list

In other words, the machine's maximum supported memory is 2GB and it has a Windows Vista Capable sticker on it. I have discovered that a computer has to be called Windows Vista Ready if it supports all of the requirements of the highest versions of Windows Vista. In other words, my new laptop will be able to run Windows Vista, but not unreservedly. If it needs 4GB of memory to run optimally, as that article says, then it never will be able to do so, because the maximum supported amount of memory is 2GB, and that cannot be changed.

Answer

As usual, Microsoft's recommended minimum amount of RAM memory for the different versions of Windows Vista has caused quite a bit of controversy. Ever since Windows 95, Microsoft's "minimum" hardware requirements mean the least amount of hardware that is required to get a particular version of Windows functioning.

To run any version of Windows Vista, Microsoft says that those minimum hardware requirements are an 800MHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and a graphics card that is at least compatible with DirectX 9.

Windows Vista would run on a desktop or laptop computer with that hardware, but it won't be an enjoyable experience - especially if it is one of the higher versions of Windows Vista. In fact, if you have a PC with that sort of hardware, you should only use the Windows Vista Home Basic version.

Most of the versions of Windows Vista require more RAM memory to run optimally on a computer that doesn't use memory-hungry applications than Windows XP. A video-editing application is an example of memory-intensive software. Only Windows Vista Home Basic has a recommended amount of memory of 512MB, which is the same amount recommended for Windows XP. Windows Vista Home Premium, the most popular version and Windows Vista Ultimate require 1GB (1024MB) of memory, which is twice the amount of memory recommended to run Windows XP. Read the information on the RAM pages of this site to find out if you should buy memory for use in single-channel or dual-channel modes.

The new key features of Vista, such as the new AeroGlass/Flip 3D interface won't run of the minimum hardware requirements. Read the information provided on the Using Windows Vista section of this site for more information on Vista's new features and the hardware that is required to run them.

Microsoft's "recommended" hardware, which includes a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, a video/graphics card with at least 128MB of video RAM, a Windows Vista Display Driver Model (WDDM) device driver, and 32 bits/pixel output, is a more realistic practical recommended minimum for a Windows Vista Capable computer.

Graphics Hardware and Drivers for Windows Vista -

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/device/display/graphics-reqs.mspx

Microsoft recommends that a Windows Vista Ready computer should have a graphics card with 128MB of dedicated video memory (not an integrated graphics chip on the PC's motherboard that uses 128MB of system memory) that supports DirectX 9.0 and Pixel Shader 2. A system like this should allow all of the key components of Windows Vista to run. Nevertheless, the "recommended" hardware requirements are still not equivalent to an "optimal" system setup.

Many experts recommend that Vista should run on at least 2GB of RAM, which is widely considered as being the optimal amount of memory to run Windows XP on. However, Windows Vista (from the Vista Home Premium version up) is a bigger and more complex operating system than even Windows XP Professional Edition, so it will not run as well on 2GB of memory as Windows XP does. However, most users will probably find that the performance of any version of Vista will be perfectly acceptable with that amount of memory.

All of the 32-bit versions of Vista support up to 4GB of RAM. For your information, the 64-bit versions support more than that. But does Vista really need 4GB of memory? - No. Vista runs in a limited way on as little as 512MB of memory, passingly well on 1GB, and acceptably well on 2GB. However, to run the higher versions of Vista optimally, 4GB of RAM are required, which is double the amount required to run Windows XP optimally.

Just bear in mind that you say that your laptop computer runs Windows XP Professional well on 896MB (1024MB minus the 128MB used by the graphics chip), so it will probaby run Windows Vista Business edition just acceptably well on 2GB less 128MB (2048 - 128 = 1920MB).


Power Options/Power Schemes: Whenever I close the lid of my laptop/notebook PC, it shuts down...

Problem

With my previous laptop computer, I used to close the lid whenever I wanted to take a break, and the computer would shut down. When I reopened the lid, the computer would come back to life fairly quickly and be in exactly the same state it was in before I left off. With my new laptop, whenever I close the lid, it shuts down, but Windows has to reboot when it restarts, and I have to open the program I was using again. How can I get the previous response back?

Answer

This has to do with your laptop's power settings. Your current computer is not shutting down, it is going into standby mode. Your previous computer was going into hibernation.

Click Start => Control Panel => Power Options in Windows XP. In Windows Vista, look under System and Maintenance in the Control Panel for the Power Options.

There are some useful settings there for use with a laptop/notebook PC, because they can reduce the amount of battery power it uses. Several power schemes are available under the Power Schemes tab that configure the way in which the computer turns itself off, or you can choose your own settings. For example, you can set how long the computer has to be inactive before it goes into hibernation.

The setting you need is under the Advanced tab, because it controls what happens when you close the laptop's lid. The setting is called When I close the lid of my computer. The options in the drop-down menu are: Do nothing, Stand by, and Hibernate.

The two other settings are called When I press the power button on my computer and When I press the sleep button on my computer. These two options have the additional choices of Ask me what to do and Shut down.

You have probably chosen the Stand by option from the drop-down menu, so choose the Hibernate option instead and the computer won't have to reboot every time you reopen the lid. When the computer goes into standby mode, just like a TV set, it shuts down but remains powered on. When it comes out of standby, a computer has to reboot Windows. However, when the computer hibernates it saves the state it is in to RAM memory so that it can recall what it has saved in memory when it comes out of hibernation. The desktop should be returned to exactly the same state it was in before the computer went into hibernation. You must have the Enable hibernation option enabled under the Hibernate tab of Power Options in order to make use of the hibernate feature.


Why is my laptop that is set to the "Always On" Power Scheme running at half speed?

Problem

I have a Dell laptop that is about two years old, running Windows XP. CPU-Z (from cpuid.com) and the General tab under System in the Control Panel both tell me that the computer is running at only 800MHz, which is half of the 1.60GHz the processor is rated for. My current power setting under Control Panel => Power Options => Power Schemes is Always On, because I use mains power instead of the battery. If I try using any of the other power settings, the processor just runs slower. How can I make the computer run at or close to 1.60GHz?

Answer

Have a look the Dell QuickSet application, which appears as a large Q in the System Tray (Notification Area) in bottom right side of the screen, or in the Control Panel.

QuickSet is Dell's proprietary software that manages the power and other settings, such as the screen's brightness and the network connectivity. Dell must think that QuickSet does a better job of managing those settings than Windows XP. If you try to manage the power settings directly through the Windows Power Options in the Control Panel, QuickSet can often override them, although sometimes it does not.

For example, you could have Windows XP's Power Scheme set for Always On, but if QuickSet is set for Maximum Battery Life, it could override the Windows XP setting. As you should know, Windows slows the processor down in order to extend the battery life. It is usually always best to have Windows managing the power.

Sony, Toshiba, Lenovo and others all have programs like Dell's QuickSet. Most of them can be uninstalled easily in Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel. If not, most of them allow you to turn them off via a setting of their own, such as: Use Windows to manage the power options.


What do I have to know in order to use my notebook computer in the US and Europe?

Question

I will have to use my laptop computer when I travel to the US and Europe from the UK. Are there any important considerations that I should know about in order to be able to do that?

Answer

You shouldn't have a problem charging the laptop in the US or Europe, because the power supplies on most laptops can accept 100-240V at 50Hz or 60Hz. However, make sure by checking the label. However, you will need an adapter in order to be able to plug it into the mains. Someone using an American laptop in the UK would have to use an adapter that allows it to be connected to the UK mains system. You can also buy surge protectors for additional safety. Read the information on these two pages:

LAPTOP USE ABROAD - http://www.travelproducts.com/store/laptops.htm

ELECTRICAL MATTERS - http://www.travelproducts.com/store/electric.htm

Traveling With Laptops In The Post-9/11 World -

http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=6503586

It has become more difficult to take a laptop through airport security. You will probably have to switch it on to prove that it is a working computer, not a disguised bomb.

You can use a laptop on a plane, but you should deactivate the wireless network adapter, because you don't want to log on to other laptops wirelessly and you don't want other laptops logging on to yours. You can do that via Network Connections in Windows XP by right-clicking on the adapter.

Note that the computer's warranty might not allow it to be serviced outside the UK, so check with its manufacturer before you go abroad. You should also have sufficient travel insurance to cover the value of the computer in case it is stolen, lost, or damaged.


How can I connect my laptop computer to a TV? - Hooking up laptop to a TV

Problem

I have an HP ZV5000 laptop computer and I want to hook it up to my TV and home theatre equipment. What is the best way to do this using S-Video or Composite video? I am very confused about all of these connections.

Answer

Have a look at the available output ports on your computer's video/graphics card, or its motherboard's ports panel if it is an integrated motherboard that has an inbuilt graphics chip instead of a separate AGP or PCI Express graphics card. The available output ports are: a 15-pin D-sub VGA port, a DVI port, and an S-Video port. Your computer could have one, two, or all of those ports.

Next, you have to identify the type of television TV you have - an analog or digital TV. If it's an analog television, it should have an S-Video input port. If it's a digital television, it could have any of these input ports: S-Video, 15-pin VGA D-sub, component video, or a DVI input.

Now you have to match the output port from the computer with the input port on the TV. A VGA D-Sub or DVI match provides the best quality of image and picture production. If you have a component video connection on the TV and a VGA D-sub output on the computer, you can connect them by making use of an adapter. An S-Video connection provides the poorest quality of image and picture production, so you should only use it if you can't use either of the other alternatives.

Turn the TV channel to AV1, or whatever you plugged it into. Consult your laptop's user manual to find out how to make it display on an external monitor. In Windows XP, you will probably have to make the secondary monitor (the TV) the primary monitor under Control Panel => Display => Settings.

You must match the screen resolution that the TV uses with the screen resolution that the PC is using. You do that in Windows under Display => Settings.

Compatible screen resolutions and video standards might be provided on the back of the TV. If not, you should be able to find them listed in the TV's user manual.

If the VGA D-sub TV input is PC compatible, one or more of the following video standard and screen resolutions should be provided:

VGA = 640x480

SVGA = 800x600

XGA = 1024x768

SXGA = 1280x1024

The following page provides more information on these standards and many others:

Computer display standard - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_display_standard

The 15-pin VGA D-sub input might not be directly PC compatible. If this is the case, one or a few of the following television formats and their compatible screen resolutions should be provided on the back of the TV or in the TV's user manual:

480i - not compatible with PC's

480p = 720x480

720p = 1280x720

1080i = 1920x1080 (interlaced)

1080p = 1920x1080

To provide sound with any of the above-mentioned connections, you connect a 1/8" to L/R RCA cable from the audio output on the computer (on the sound card or motherboard if it is an integrated motherboard) to the corresponding audio jack on the TV.

To provide sound on a laptop computer that doesn't have an RCA Composite port, buy an RCA-headphone jack adapter, which costs about £2/$3. You connect an RCA cable to the RCA Composite input on your TV, plug the other end in to the adapter, and the adapter into the headphone or line-out plug in your laptop computer.

If you require more information, the articles and pages linked to below describe in detail how to connect the different types of PC video/graphics ports to analog and digital TVs.

How To Connect a Computer To Your TV -

http://www.techlore.com/article/10061/?page=1

PC to TV and TV to PC Converters - Provides USB converters -

http://www.keyzone.com/converters/index.htm

Connect your Media Center PC to a TV -

"The S-Video cable works well with most standard TVs. The procedure below explains how to connect a TV to your computer using an S-Video connection." -

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/using/setup/connecttv.mspx

TV Connection cables -

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/using/setup/cables.mspx

How to use the S-Video out of your computer - http://www.svideo.com/compaq1700.html

PC to TV cables - http://www.svideo.com/pc2tv.html

If you enter connect + tv + pc (as is) in the Google search box at the top of this page (enable the Web Search option on the first search page), you can find plenty of other useful pages.


Shutdown problem: My three-year-old notebook PC started freezing and now it starts to shut down at random intervals

Problem

I have a three-year-old Dell 250N notebook PC. It was working perfectly well until all of a sudden it started to freeze for no reason. Then, after about two weeks of doing that, it started to shut down randomly, often after only a few minutes of having been switch on. The actions I've taken so far without success are: scanned for spyware and viruses with updated scanners, and used the restore disc to restore the system. I noticed that the bottom of the PC becomes very hot, so I bought a set of feet thinking that it would help the airflow, but the problem remains.

Answer

The laptop's circuitry appears to be shutting it down in order to prevent damage to the processor. It is doing that because the laptop is overheating, no doubt because of an accumulation of dust inside the case that reduces the effectiveness of the cooling fans and the heatsinks that depend on them to expel hot air. The solution is relatively simple. Click here! to go directly to information on overheating laptops and how to clean them on on Page 4 of this article on laptop PCs.


Some of the newer PC games run very slowly at their lowest settings on my ageing laptop, but its manufacturer doesn't have updated drivers for the video/graphics card

Problem

I have an elderly Intel Pentium 4 business laptop PC that has a 2GHz processor and an ATI Mobility M6 graphics chip. I use it for office work and to play PC games. Some of the newer games run very slowly, even with the lowest screen resolution. The ATI Catalyst drivers won't install. A message comes up telling me to obtain the drivers from the laptop's manufacturer. But the manufacturer's site only has the version of the drivers that are already installed.

Answer

Note that the video/graphics card manufacturer, ATI, which was purchased by AMD, is now called AMD.

The ATI Mobility M6 graphics chip is elderly by current standards, but it should still be able to play many 3D Games at reasonable speeds.

Click here! to go directly to information about laptop graphics drivers on Page 2 of this article on laptop PCs.

The simplest solution is to install the ATI Omega drivers. They can be obtained from: http://www.omegadrivers.net/.


The backlight failed on my notebook PC's screen when it was just out of the warranty period and the manufacturer wants to charge me £300 to replace it

Problem

Unfortunately, when the backlight failed on my notebook PC, it was just after the warranty period had expired. I contacted the manufacturer and was quoted £300 to replace it. That is nearly half of what the machine cost me, so I'd like to know if there is a cheaper alternative.

Answer

The problem is caused by a failed component called an inverter board - the electronics that power the screen's backlight. Many dead LCD monitors and laptop screens are brought about by the failure of this component. It looks as if the manufacturer will only provide a screen and an inverted board as a single replacement unit, hence the high cost, because the inverter board itself is a cheap component. They can be purchased relatively easily. There is certainly no need to replace the screen itself, because there is nothing wrong with it. A search of eBay found several inverter boards for sale at around £15. However, you have to buy the correct one for your particular notebook PC.

Buying a new board, or one that has been salvaged, won't be too difficult, but replacing it is the kind of involved job that should only be performed by a professional technician. Luckily, there are many notebook PC repair companies to be found online. I'm sure that you could find one that would be willing to fit a board you've bought instead of forcing you to pay for one that it provides.


The most common laptop/notebook PC problems covered in the MS Knowledge Base

Click the MS Knowledge Base reference number to go to that article
Description of the problem
  The 50 most popular Knowledge Base articles - http://support.microsoft.com/gp/topkbs
822738
FIX: The shutdown procedure takes a long time to complete - Describes why shutdown may take lots of time to complete in Windows XP.
282753
PS/2 Wheel Mouse Jumps Around Screen on Laptops with Touchpads - If you have a laptop computer and you are using a PS/2 wheel mouse, you may encounter erratic behavior with the mouse, such as the cursor jumping all over the screen; however, the built-in touchpad may work fine. -APPLIES TO • Windows XP Home Edition • Windows XP Professional
320345
CPU [Processor] Usage Rises to 100 Percent If You Charge the Battery Slowly While the Computer Is On - While you are slowly charging the battery on a laptop computer while the computer is powered on, CPU usage may rise to 100 percent until you unplug the computer. This causes performance to be reduced, and prevents the battery from being charged. - APPLIES TO Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 • Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 • Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 • Windows 2000 Advanced Server • Windows 2000 Advanced Server • Windows 2000 Advanced Server • Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 • Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 • Windows 2000 Service Pack 3
888399
You receive a "STOP 0x000000D1" error message on your Windows XP Service Pack 2-based portable computer - Describes the problem where you receive a "STOP 0x000000D1" on your Windows XP Service Pack 2-based portable computer.
833193
A DVD does not play on a secondary monitor when the battery is low on a laptop - This article describes DVD playback on a laptop that is running low on battery power. - APPLIES TO Windows Media Player 9 Series
305037
Low Battery Alarm May Not Work If the Power Meter Is Not on the Taskbar - When you use a laptop computer that is equipped with an Advanced Power Management-enabled basic input/output system (BIOS) on battery power, you may not hear a low battery alarm if the Power Meter is not displayed on the status area of the taskbar. - APPLIES TO Windows 98 Standard Edition • Windows 98 Second Edition
264381
Laptop May Not Suspend When It Is Running on Battery Power - Your laptop may not automatically suspend when it is running on battery power. This behavior can occur if you start the laptop while you are using AC power, and then you unplug the laptop and the battery icon is not displayed on the taskbar. - APPLIES TO Windows Millennium Edition
297045
The Laptop Computer May Be Unable to Enter the C3 Processor Power-Saving State - Your laptop computer may be unable to enter the C3 processor power-saving state. This problem can occur because the active bus polling that is required to maintain communication with universal serial bus (USB) devices can prevent the CPU from. - APPLIES TO Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 • Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 • Windows Millennium Edition • Windows 98 Second Edition
245107
Computer Battery Power May Drain Faster with USB Device Attached - Battery-powered computers that use Advanced Power Management (APM) or Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) may experience increased power consumption leading to a more rapid drain of battery power when a Universal Serial Bus (USB). - APPLIES TO Windows Millennium Edition • Windows 98 Second Edition • Windows 98 Standard Edition • Windows 95
272554
Laptop Computer Switches to Low Resolution After Hibernate or Standby - If your laptop computer switches to Hibernate or Standby mode under the following circumstances, the screen may change to a low (640 X 480) resolution setting: The screen resolution is set to 1024 X 768 or 800 X 600 resolution. - APPLIES TO Windows 2000 Server • Windows 2000 Professional Edition
264195
Memory Problems with Certain Models of Dell Laptop Computers - Certain models of Dell laptop computers may experience various system instabilities under certain conditions, ranging from blue-screen errors, to the system becoming unresponsive, or an inability to properly resume from the Suspend or the Standby. -The potentially affected systems are: Latitude CPx H - Latitude CPi R - Latitude CPt C- Latitude CPi A - Latitude CS R - Inspiron 5000 - Inspiron 3700 - Inspiron 7500 - Inspiron 7000 - Inspiron 3500. APPLIES TO • Windows 2000 Professional Edition • Windows 95 • Windows 98 Standard Edition
821161
Hardware Profile Shows Incorrect Docking Status for Portable Computer - On your Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1)-based system, one or both of the following symptoms may occur: When you start your undocked portable computer, your hardware profile may show the computer as docked.When you hot-dock your portable computer,...

This laptop problems section of this website consists of three pages.

Click here! to Page 2

Click here! to Page 3

Click here! to go to the full list of hardware and software problems dealt with on this website


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